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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Random Excellence

Photographer Unknown: Union General W. H. French Standing
in Front of Tent, Bealton, Va., October 1863


I was going to try to make this into a print offer, until, too many hours past bedtime, the awful truth snuck up on me: nobody would want a print of this except me. Well, me and, perhaps, one Civil War buff from Poughkeepsie. Still, I think it's a charming old picture, of a pompous old fellow. I like how he stands there stoutly, swimming in that sea of bokeh, and I like the damaged edges of the plate, and that luminous hand. And by the bye, I don't think the idea of print offers as a regular thing is going to fly. I will still make one once in a while, however, when it seems like a good thing to do.

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON

11 Comments:

Blogger Chris Johnson said...

Is this your sneaky way of trying to get pre-orders? :-)

10:07 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Chris,
No.

--Mike

10:14 AM  
Blogger tim atherton said...

Of course if folks really want one, they could just download it from the LoC and do it themselves...

12:44 PM  
Blogger Chris Johnson said...

Mike,
Do you think you could create a running list with links of your favorite photos that you find on the Library of Congress website?

10:58 PM  
Blogger Richard Sintchak said...

I tried to find this one on the LoC website but searching under every term I could think of from the title of the jpeg to the subject in the photo brought up numerous Civil War photos but not this one. I wanted to examine the image file in closer detail. Any hints on where to find it, or the search terms to use?

12:08 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Richard,
It's on this page:

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query
/f?ils:3900:./temp/~pp_GCUq:

--Mike

12:32 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Chris,
I'm not trying to be taciturn or brusque with you, but...

No.

(s)

--Mike

12:33 PM  
Blogger Yoram Nevo said...

Isn't the pohto right side left?
At least according to the number at top. In what hand does a soldier suppose to hold his sord?

12:40 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Yoram,
Most people are righthanded, so soldiers would carry their swords on their left sides. The number is backward because it is scratched in the emulsion side of the plate. If the writing were intended to appear in the print--often the case with early negatives--the letters would have to be scratched into the emulsion backwards. One thing you'll sometimes see in early photographs is a reversed letter in the legend--because writing backwards didn't come naturally to people and once something was scratched into the negative, that was that--there was no correcting it.

--Mike

1:24 PM  
Blogger Scott Jones said...

This is one beautiful portrait! The sharp figure against that luscious blur and those great lines of the trees made it a real winner for me regardless of the subject matter. Thanks for sharing this wee bit of excellence. Imagine if the photographer could have ever gussed that more than 100 years down the line, we all would be looking at this on computers. Boggles the mind!

Scott

6:17 PM  
Blogger Chris Johnson said...

I'm insulted and enraged by all the taciturniness and brusqiness of all your responses Mike :-)

11:55 PM  

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